Helen Cantwell is a Cork based artist interested in information systems and the ebb and flow between censorship and information overload. Born in the ‘cusp’ generation who grew up outdoors but entered their teen years through Facebook, Helen works to navigate the rapidly changing landscape online. Working through digital media and collecting inspiration on the internet, Helen’s goal is to find concrete ways to convey the shifting trends and ephemeral nature of media streams today. She does this through taking her digital pieces and experimenting with display and medium, asking viewers to process the information they are taking in on the daily. A recent graduate of Crawford College of Art and Design, her mixed media installation touched on this theme and received a number of awards.
Spending her weekends as a stallholder at markets around Cork, Helen is also intrigued by the flow of information between people in smaller communities and how or if this differs to the spread of information through large scale news media – especially at vulnerable times in the community such as the ongoing pandemic. Ultimately her work strives to find the logic and humour behind the emotionally charged landscape of social/news media in an attempt to stay sane in a world of conflicting ideas.
My work aims to explore ideas of advertising culture and crowd manipulation through social media streams, particularly why we as consumers feel the need to constantly change our lifestyles to fit an online image. Expanding on this, I look at the effect of social media saturation on the identities and psyches of a generation raised online. Working in expanded image making , my practice layers methods of digital collage, print media, appropriation techniques and installation, drawing on the visuals of social media and inserting autobiographical imagery. Using marketing materials such as acrylic and steel I aim to emulate advertisement aesthetics, while transparency and colour saturation reflect internet and screen media aesthetics. In a broader sense, my work explores the systems that are put in place to control and censor people, or to use people as a source of income and how this can affect us both as individuals and as a collective. I find that I explore my ideas best through digital media and collage, but it is where they go from there that excites me, as I enjoy working with print, drawing, screen media and large scale/ mural based painting.
Membership: Ciarán Langford Memorial Bursary